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Chelsea Green Blog

The Economic Crisis + Peak Oil = An Age of Relocalization?

The financial meltdown, the credit crisis, and ensuing economic contraction—it can all be traced back to peak oil. Author Julian Darley, who knows a thing or two about dwindling resources, believes that high oil prices—caused by supply constraints not meeting demand—are the real cause of the economic crash, and until our new president and his administration face facts, they’ll just be fighting the symptoms rather than the disease.

America and the world wakes this morning to a landscape of new possibilities. We also wake up to a daunting list of problems, most of which are now well known. Yet still there is one problem that was never mentioned by either presidential candidate, no doubt for their own good reasons. The problem is one that has been waiting in the wings since 1859. Or 1846 if you live in Russia. These are the dates of the first oil wells in the world, and they mark the beginning of our dependence on oil, a dependence which is now being forced into reverse. Peak oil and decline has to become a dominant factor in political and business planning because otherwise, the wrong remedies are going to be applied to the wrong causal diagnosis. The world headlines this morning helpfully remind Obama and his new team that they face some severe economic woes. I am sure they are very grateful for that information. What they need to hear about are the underlying reasons for the financial meltdown, the credit crisis and ensuing economic contraction. Jeff Rubin, of CIBC, makes the case strongly in a recent report, that high oil prices – caused by supply constraints not meeting demand – are the real cause of the economic crash. The chart shows that all but one of the last five recessions have followed sharp rises in oil prices. Obama’s new economic advisers will surely also be looking at such graphs, but will they notice how dramatically different the 21st century price rise curve is, and will they ask why? Unless they do, it seems likely that we see economic alchemy being practiced rather than economic realism. In the past that has lead to exuberance and temporary consumer happiness. This time will be different.

Read the whole article here.


A Dictionary to Survive the Future

When British economist David Fleming died unexpectedly in 2010, he left behind his great unpublished work, a masterpiece more than thirty years in the making—an intellectually evocative and inspiring dictionary, Lean Logic: A Dictionary for the Future and How to Survive It. In it, Fleming examined the consequences of an economy that destroys the very foundations—ecological, […] Read More

Michael Ableman’s 15-Point Urban Food Manifesto

What if farms and food production were integrated into every aspect of urban living—from special assessments to create new farms and food businesses to teaching people how to grow fruits and vegetables so farmers can focus on staple crops.That’s the crux of Michael Ableman’s Urban Food Manifesto, which has been ten years in the making […] Read More

Q&A with Michael Ableman: How Urban Farming Can Improve Society

Street Farm is the inspirational account of residents in the notorious Low Track in Vancouver, British Columbia who joined together to create an urban farm as a means of addressing the chronic problems in their neighborhood.Street Farm is a story of recovery, of land and food, of people, and of the power of farming and nourishing […] Read More

Overshoot, Collapse, and Creating a Better Future

In 2016, Earth Overshoot Day happened on August 8—the day when we’ve exhausted the planet’s resources for the year, and are essentially borrowing from future years to maintain our existence today.Perhaps you celebrated this day with a counter-solution: a vegetarian meal, telecommuted, or turned off the air conditioning. There’s a lot more you could be […] Read More

The Future Is Hopeless, So Give it Your All

The never-ending national election in the United States, the “surprise” pro-Brexit vote in the United Kingdom, climate change … the list goes on and on about how easy it can be to lose hope in the future.Like many of life’s frustrations, or overwhelmingly large topics, most people in our society find themselves somewhere on the […] Read More
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